By BONFACE OTIENO

American tech firm Microsoft has opened a new $27 million (Ksh3 billion) office and labs for its premier engineering hub, the African Development Centre (ADC), after three years of operation in Kenya.  

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday unveiled the multibillion-shilling facility at Dunhill Towers in Westlands, Nairobi.

In a statement sent to the newsrooms from State House, the head of state expressed optimism that the facility will bolster the government’s push to secure high-tech jobs in the digital space for the youth.

“As a premier centre of research and development for Microsoft, we all remain confident that you – together with our young men and women – will build a local world-class talent and create innovative technological solutions that will yield global positive impacts,” said President Kenyatta said.

The facility will house the research, design, engineering, and innovation teams as well as the Microsoft Garage, an incubation hub launched as part of the ongoing efforts to scale tech innovation on the continent.

The centre is one of the largest software engineering facilities in Africa and sets the standard for a new generation of technology hubs across the continent.

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It has been built in a similar style to Microsoft’s global offices to optimise space utilisation, air conditioning, and lighting adjustments as part of Microsoft’s global ambition to be net carbon negative by 2030.

It also boasts of self-heating windows, a mini solar plant to power the facility, and a water treatment facility to recycle and purify the water, which is not yet available in other Microsoft offices but are available at the new ADC facility.

President Kenyatta said that Microsoft has also partnered with local universities and start-ups to provide training and skills to create job opportunities for over 200,000 young Kenyans in support of the digital economy. 

The President cited the creation of full-time time jobs for Kenyans in the fields of software development, programme management, technical design, content writing, operations, research and applied sciences as part of the mutually beneficial partnership between the Government and Microsoft.

“One of our proud achievements in developing this facility was during the construction phase when we hired over 100 builders, artisans, architects, artists, craftsmen, women groups, and other skilled and unskilled workers, all during the height of the Covid pandemic,”  said ADC managing director Jack Ngare.  

The investments in the centres are part of Microsoft’s ongoing plans for enabling digital transformation, bridging gaps in infrastructure, connectivity and capability while creating sustained societal impact on the continent.